Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has announced an initiative to document the oral history of the Ardah, a folkloric group dance. The Oral History of the Saudi Arda initiative, announced by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) on Sunday, aims to shed light on the traditional celebratory Saudi group dance made famous by the rising popularity of the Kingdom’s culture and heritage in the world over in recent years, Xinhua news agency reported citing an official statement.
The dance involves two rows of men opposite of one another, each of whom may or may not be wielding a sword or cane, and is accompanied by drums and spoken poetry.
Ardah combines poetry, percussion music, and tap dancing to produce an evocation of the formidable respectability of a flag defended with a sword.
The authority is tasked by the Saudi government to redevelop Diriyah, a historic town located on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh and the original home of the Saudi royal family, into a global tourist destination.
This is part of a series of similar initiatives to preserve the national history, reinvigorate the festive Saudi dance, popularise Ardah songs and their writers, and introduce people to the Saudi art form.
Performed solely by men in a public space, Ardah is a manifestation of their upbeat enthusiasm as they reiterate their loyalty and love to the King and the Kingdom, according to a report by the Saudi Gazette.
Originally, Ardah started as a war dance to instil vigour in the hearts of fighting men right before engaging in a war.
The sword dance was a way to show off weapons and fearlessness to the enemy. Today, it’s a fundamental component of the Kingdom’s popular culture.